Will Russia’s ‘Terminator’ tanks break Ukraine’s resistance?

Moscow deploys armoured fighting vehicles in ‘sign of increasing frustration’

A BMPT ‘Terminator’ tank on display during last year’s Victory Day parade in Red Square
BMPT ‘Terminator’ tanks on display at last year’s Victory Day Parade in Moscow’s Red Square
(Image credit: Iliya Pitalev/Host Photo Agency via Getty Images)

Vladimir Putin has unleashed his “Terminator” military vehicles to bolster Russia forces battling fierce resistance in Ukraine’s Donbas region.

The Russian president had “held back” on sending in the “notorious” BMPT tank, nicknamed the Terminator because of its “indestructibility”, The Telegraph reported. But in a “sign of increasing frustration”, the Kremlin has ordered their deployment, as Russia “throws everything in its arsenal�� at capturing the contested eastern region.

Terminators have been filmed being driven through streets in Severodonetsk, a Ukrainian city “on the front line” of the invasion, the paper said. Russian state media reported that the tanks had been deployed from Moscow’s 90th tank division.

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‘We’ve got Terminators!’

Ukrainian troops have managed to “obliterate” Putins main army tanks, the T-90M tank, “with the help of British missiles”, said the Daily Mail. But the “much-vaunted” Terminators pose a greater threat.

“Designed for urban warfare,” they are “equipped with four anti-tank missile launchers, two 30mm cannons, two grenade launches and one machine gun”, according to The Times. They have a maximum speed of 37mph.

The super-tanks, which were used by the Russian army in Syria, can also “engage multiple targets at once and on different height levels”, said The Independent.

Russian state-owned news agency Ria Novosti reported on Wednesday that Terminators were “involved in the fire destruction of Ukrainian positions, armoured vehicles, and crews of anti-tank missile systems”, alongside “tank platoons”.

In a message on the Telegram messaging app welcoming their deployment, Aleksandr Sladkov, a pro-Kremlin war reporter, wrote: “Thank God! We’ve got Terminators! Maybe they’ll have technical faults, and maybe their use will only become clear in practice, but this is progress!”

New foe

Military expert Justin Crump said the decision to send Terminators into the area around Severodonetsk showed the extent of Russia “determination to assault” the territory.

The former British army tank commander told Sky News that “this is a signature Russian piece of equipment”.

“They’ve only got about nine of these,” Crump continued. “It’s designed to do the work of infantry in support of tanks. So it’s a tank with a turret designed to suppress enemy infantry.

“They haven’t committed them yet to the fight. It’s one of the things Russia is quite proud of – it’s what they've been trying to export.”

Break the lines

Why the Terminators “had not been deployed until now” is “unclear”, said The Telegraph. But the decision to unleash them now in Donbas suggests that Russia is “desperately looking for ways to relieve its beleaguered main army”.

The Daily Mail reported that “one theory” about why Putin did not send in Terminators earlier is that his “beleaguered commanders do not trust it to be as all-conquering as its name suggests”.

But their deployment to Severodonetsk “shows Russia’s determination to assault that city sooner rather than later”, Crump told Sky News. “By capturing this area around Severodonetsk, that allows them to have declared a success in freeing Luhansk.”

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